While not everyone experiences anxiety, it’s likely that stress will affect everyone at some point in their lives.
In the American Psychological Association’s (APA) annual Stress in America report, which was just released, it was found that people who are part of Gen Z (ages 15 to 21) reported the worst mental health of all generations that participated in the study.
Reacting to difficult experiences or negative news by feeling stressed is a common and valid experience, and learning how to manage it can make a positive difference in your life.
To find out how to identify stress and work through it, Teen Vogue spoke with experts on mental health.
Stress is defined as a state of “mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.” It can manifest as being unable to concentrate, experiencing headaches, having sweaty palms or feet, worrying excessively, feeling irritable, or having a rapid heart rate, among other things.
Recognizing stress at a lower level before it triggers larger symptoms is the best way to prevent it from getting worse, says psychologist Ashley Hampton.
At the end of the day, you can identify stress because it tends to be a short-lived response to something and not a feeling that overstays its welcome, according to psychologist Sari Chait.
The important thing to know is that every person experiences stress differently, so how it manifests for someone else might not be how your own symptoms will manifest. And even though stress can often feel negative, it can sometimes be a good thing. There are multiple kinds of stress, including eustress and situational stress for example.
Eustress is a beneficial type of stress that’s generally caused by events that might make you nervous, like an audition, speaking in front of a class, performing at an event, or even talking to someone you like. This kind of stress gives you the adrenaline you need to find your courage or perform well.
Situational stress is a reaction to a circumstance you’re experiencing, and it might come up each time you experience the specific situation. It often manifests as small physical symptoms, like feeling your heart pounding, shortness of breath, or sweaty palms, and it goes away shortly after the situation is over. Usually, we call this nervousness.
Trying different tools to find what works for you is important, since what works for someone else might not be helpful to you. Making art, writing, practicing yoga (or another physical activity that balances out your heart rate and calms your mind), practicing mindfulness, or taking a walk are a few ways to alleviate or cope with stress, according to the experts who spoke with Teen Vogue.
“Going into action mode can help some people. For example, if an upcoming exam is stressing you out, diving into studying and preparing for the exam can actually help decrease the associated stress,” says Chait. However, some people need distractions from stress instead of actively confronting the stressor, which is okay too.
Telling a few close friends about your struggles can also be a great way to let go of stress. Asking friends for support can actually decrease stigma as well as isolation. Many people struggle with stress, and remembering you’re not alone might also alleviate some tension.
Krimer says that self-talk might also help you cope with stress. Self-talk is exactly what it sounds like — telling yourself that it’s okay, that you’re having scary or stressful thoughts. Doing something like this is an active way to gently acknowledge stressful thoughts and help you to let them go.
If you start to suspect that anxiety is interrupting your life, seeing a medical professional like a doctor or therapist is a constructive way to stay on top of your mental health and feel like you’re in control.
November 1, 2018 -By